Sunday, 5 February 2012

BLOG -- Happy Early Valentine's Day!

Happy early Valentine's Day! Every now and then, when I can afford the time and money, I like to follow the Japanese tradition of Valentine's Day. In Japan, the girl gives chocolate to the guy she likes. When the guy accepts the chocolates, it indicates to the girl that she might have a chance with him. I like the idea of it. Take the pressure off the guy, though quite nerve-wracking for the girl. The girl can also give chocolates to guy friends and co-workers. The chocolate can be store-bought or homemade. This past week, having a chance to see some guy friends I wouldn't get to see in a long time, I decided to "celebrate" Valentine's Day early and made chocolates last Sunday.

About me and Valentine's Day over the years (skip this if you're not interested)
I started following the Japanese tradition in my last year of high school. At first, not knowing anything about making chocolate and having a horrible internet connection, I bought them. And keeping to what I saw in anime series at that time, I only gave chocolates to the guy I liked. 

Two years later, I started trying to experiment: melting chocolate chips and pouring them into molds. Sometimes I would put sprinkles in them to get a different texture (although the chocolate would look kinda freaky with sprinkles sticking out). I even melted After Eight mint chocolates and spread the mixture in a bat-shaped cookie cutter (I was such a noob back then -- I still am, lol). It had a, um, burnt, minty taste. ><''

Then three years ago, I decided to actually search out a chocolate recipe, wanting to do something new. I found something that called for two packages of oreos, coarsely crushed. I didn't have a food processor of any sort, so I crushed those oreos with my hands. It sounds fun... but my fingers were very numb and achy at the end. I started to give chocolates to my guy friends and co-workers at that time as well (well, whoever I saw -- same as now, because I know I can't see everybody I want to see). I've always liked giving small gifts -- doing small things -- bringing a smile -- brightening their day just a little bit, if I could. That's just how I am.

Here's a pic of all the ingredients I used (except the soy sauce). This year's theme was Oreos.

I had three main chocolates in mind -- two new attempts, and an old recipe. One of the new attempts was an idea I had, and well, it was a total failure.

The greatest challenge for me was trying to figure out what to make first -- what ingredients to use first so I wouldn't have to wash the same dishes over and over again (like if a recipe needs dry ingredients and wet ingredients and it doesn't matter how it's mixed, I'd want to measure the dry ingredients first and then the wet ingredients -- so I only need to wash the measuring cup once). To be honest, as much as I enjoy making chocolates and giving them, I was a little hesitant to even start -- because I know there would be a ton of dishes to wash. And once I start, I know that I'll keep at it until it's done, no matter how long it takes.

Chocolate #1: New Attempt (Failure)
Ingredients List:
-Jell-o pudding

The first thing I decided to make was the Jell-o pudding. It was cookies and cream flavoured, and it was easy enough to do.

You might wonder: Why is she making pudding? Well, because I had this crazy idea to make pudding-filled chocolate. A few years ago, I attempted actual jello-filled chocolate, and it was a challenge, but partially successful -- some people did get to try it out. Nobody (except me and my sister) got to try the pudding-filled chocolate this year -- every piece burst. ><

Total failure! :(

Chocolate #2: Mint Chocolate Cookie Crunch
Ingredients List:
-Rice Krispies
-Peppermint extract
Full list and instructions: Click!

This was the recipe I tried years ago that called for 2 packages of Oreos, coarsely crushed (my poor fingers). Well, this time, I was prepared.

Haha, take that!

Mixing the whole mixture was still difficult. For some reason, adding peppermint extract to chocolate makes the chocolate stiffer -- harder to mix. And I had to get the chocolate all over the rice krispies and Oreos before the chocolate dried. In the end I had to get help from my sister and her fiance, because my arms were just dying. It turned out quite well, though!

Chocolate #3: Oreo Squares
Ingredients List:
Full list and instructions: Click! [Scroll to the bottom for the recipe]

I stumbled upon this recipe by mistake. I was trying to find the recipe for the mint chocolate cookie crunch, but I forgot what it was called. So I searched on Google recipes oreo rice krispies, and the first hit was a link to a blog talking about Oreo Rice Krispies without rice krispies. I clicked on the link and the first thing I saw was a delicious-looking picture of three brownie-coloured squares stacked on top of each other with Oreos next to them. I knew right away that I had to make it. Basically, it's like making rice krispies squares, but substituting the rice krispies with Oreos.

I've only made rice krispies squares once in my life, so I was really nervous about making these. I might have put too many marshmallows in it -- I'm not sure. My sister and I really enjoyed them, though (which is why my friends and co-workers only got small pieces -- we wanted them for ourselves, lol...).

Chocolate #4: Mold Chocolate

This is the usual melting chocolates and pouring it into molds. I had to take some breather while making those other chocolates, lol. Almost nobody received this since I didn't make that many.

Ending Thoughts
Well, chocolate-making was fun, but also tiring. I'd say it took me about 5-6 hours with no real break in between. While the chocolate was melting in the microwave, I was washing whatever dishes I could. While waiting for chocolates to cool in the refrigerator, I was mixing that huge batch of chocolate, rice krispies, and coarsely crushed Oreos. When my sister and her fiance took over the mixing, I was pulsing more Oreos to get ready to make the Oreo squares. It was a non-stop chocolate venture!

As exhaustive as it was, though, seeing the smiles (and sometimes surprise) on my guy friends' and co-workers' faces made it all worth it, lol.

I'm gonna end this with a slightly random photo. Two years ago on Boxing Day, I bought an L plushie. Out of all the characters in Death Note, L is my favourite -- I totally LOVE his intelligence (he looks kinda dreamy, too, lol...). Well, I finally decided to get him a girlfriend.

Well, thanks for reading! Next week's blog will be long and boring. I'm gonna be blogging about love, lol. Don't know exactly what, but it will be related to love -- because next week will be Valentine's Day. I'll most likely be at home singing songs and playing video games. But yeah, next week's blog will be long and boring. And personal. So it may not be interesting to you.

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